From stress to inner strength - how cycling changed Mave’s life

Braintree Easy Riders and cycling has helped Mave Sharman overcome stress
Mave Sharman started cycling again after suffering work-related stress – but she admits she still had major barriers to overcome.

Despite the fact she had always ridden a bike in childhood, Mave didn’t think she could cycle any distance in later life and was worried about what she would do if she got a puncture. Then Mave joined the Cycling UK-affiliated group Braintree Easy Riders – and her life has completely changed.

Mave said: “I have always ridden a bike. I had my first bike when I was nine and I needed one when I got a paper round at the age of 12.

“Later in my adult life I suffered from work-related stress and that’s when I picked up cycling again. However, I had some barriers to overcome before I started.

“The barrier to cycling was thinking I couldn’t cycle any distance. Another was the thought of bike maintenance and what I would do if I got a puncture, as well as not knowing what to take on a ride with me.”

At this time, Mave would cycle around five miles a week. A local cycling instructor had been a friend for many years, and through him, Mave was encouraged to join Braintree Easy Riders.

My life has completely changed. I am no longer stressed. Having cycling as part of my routine has been important to me.

Mave Sharman, Braintree Easy Riders

Mave recalled: “One day I saw the group advertised in the local newspaper and that reminded me of them – so I decided to give it a go.

“When I first started, other members of Braintree Easy Riders encouraged me and gave me lots of help and advice. Cycling in a group and meeting like-minded people with a passion for the outdoors has given me confidence.

“Cycling has been very helpful for stress relief. Being off work with illness can make one feel isolated from the outside world. I have realised that allowing myself to try something new and to make some time for ‘me’ is important," Mave said.

“I have found that cycling has given me a great sense of achievement, realising what I can do. While cycling along with the group I can choose either to chat to others or have some thinking time. The sensory benefits are amazing. Simply listening to the sounds and being in touch with nature has done me the world of good.

“My life has completely changed. I am no longer stressed. Previously I had a tendency to take on too much and say ‘yes’ to everything. As well as cycling, part of my recovery has included cognitive behaviour therapy which was suggested by another member of the group."

Cycling in a group and meeting like-minded people with a passion for the outdoors has given me confidence.

Mave Sharman, Braintree Easy Riders

“Having cycling as part of my routine has been important to me. The physical exercise has been a significant part of my recovery process. Everything is now positive and I have strategies in place to manage," Mave explained

“Another member of the group has also given me some valuable advice and support. So through cycling I have set myself some challenges not only to test myself, but to also know my limits and when to say ‘no’. So now my life has moved on.”

Others are also benefitting from Mave’s new-found self-confidence and positive outlook, thanks to the voluntary work in which she is now heavily involved.

She explained: “As I like to keep busy I have taken on several voluntary roles, including help in setting up a local special needs baby group and taking on an active role as a press officer for Coeliac UK Colchester Group.

“I have also recently attended the Cycling UK first aid course, which I enjoyed from a learning perspective. I may now enrol on an evening course. I am keen to do the Cycling UK Assistant Group Leader course and volunteer to get the new Harwich group up and running so that my family can also enjoy the benefits of cycling."

Richard Monk, Cycling UK Development Officer for Essex, said: “Mave’s comments highlight the huge benefits that cycling has offered her. Firstly, she has felt fitter and physically healthier.

“Mave has been a regular participant, enjoying 48 cycle rides in 18 months and proving to be a positive influence on all. She is now planning to take the ride support training in the spring, to be able to give even more back to the group and support new riders."